OPENING THOUGHTS: If we are able to surround ourselves with food that does not make us feel sluggish and sick, but instead surround ourselves with food that is exciting, enticing, engaging, delicious and healthy– it will give us energy. Food has the power to change the way our body feels. If going to Ihop makes me feel like Ibarelymove, it makes me feel like I deserve a self-beating. And I don’t want to give myself reasons to hate myself. I am not the type of person who will hold my diet above other people’s heads. Vegan is the diet that works for my peace of mind and peace of heart. I’m not trying to convince other people to do what works for me. It’s a principle of attraction rather than promotion. In my life, when someone is promoting their lifestyle or decisions to me, I shut down. So if someone is attracted by my decision and inquires about my choices, only then will I open up about it.

OBJECTIVE: To empower our community of people in the kitchen through teaching them essential skills for cooking and baking, a better understanding of the healthy ingredients used, and the pride they’ll earn when completing a delicious dish through teamwork, patience, and having fun.

BELIEF: If knowledge is power, than I believe the most powerful tool in a person’s tool kit is knowing how to nourish their rapidly growing bodies with nutritious, peaceful, mostly plant-based food. Armed with health and an awareness of where our food comes from and how it affects our bodies, a person has a better chance of protecting themselves against poor food choices, is confident in the kitchen, and can lead their friends by example.

MY BACKGROUND: When I was 10, I asked my mom if I could take over making dinner. She took a chance on me and said yes. We went to the grocery store together and picked out all the ingredients I would need prepare dinner for my family. This time together– mother and daughter strolling the aisles and talking about food– made a positive impact on me. I learned about what ingredients are necessary for the dishes I loved to eat and in what way each ingredient was beneficial for my body. Cooking for my family that night revealed the work that actually went into meal preparation. My respect for my mom and kitchen grew. In the end, the biggest gratification came from the service I had provided for my family– a healthy, tasty meal cooked with love.

Since then I have cultivated a fervorous passion for cooking. I have written about food in popular blogs such as Impose Magazine, where I wrote recipes and shared stories from my life as if the reader were sitting with me in the kitchen; The Talkhouse, where I wrote recipes for albums that were being released and based the dish on the material of each song; and most importantly, I have an online cookbook that I am the sole contributor for. All of the recipes are vegetarian with a focus on vegan, gluten-free, and Whole30 diets. My recipes were also featured in Real Food, Real Kitchens’ newest cookbook– “Real Food, Real Kitchens: New York Cookbook”– where my food was selected to be on the cover.

Through this exposure, I have been fortunate enough to bring my cooking on the road! I have held successful cooking demonstrations in Detroit, Washington DC, Melbourne, AUS, and New York City in conjunction with different public events. This started my quest to offer my humble service of teaching cooking. And who better to gift this vital skill to than the next generation of community learners?

Through the development and execution of a 7 week power-packed cooking curriculum I developed for a rural Montessori school, my enthusiasm and confidence grew. Currently, I provide hands-on nutrition and culinary education for local Gainesville youth through a project I developed called “Kids Cookout!”.  The next project, coming this Fall 2017, will be teaching cooking to adult communities.

IN CLOSING: I am dedicated to the education of our communities people through the food we cook and eat. Meals unite us. Not a single person in this world is above eating. It’s the most inclusive activity on the planet. What we eat has a direct affect on our moods which influences how we see ourselves, how we treat others, and how much energy we are able to exert to ensure that we can be of service to those around us. A better understanding of food choices and meal preparation has the power to create a strong foundation for our youth and our communities people to grow enthusiastically as a participating, compassionate and functioning members of our society.